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Live shopping in the age of content media

Live shopping in the age of content media
 May 22, 2020

As physical storefronts shutter, the online ones are opening up at rapid speed. Every tech platform is now also a shopping mall. Tech companies are also leveraging social networking to boost shopping and turning virtual interactive events into a shopping festival.

The NTWRK, a Live Nation backed company, is the latest company to join the club. It is creating a virtual festival with not only DJs and artists but also shops. The festival will feature 30 brands and artists pitching exclusive products across NTWRK’s distribution channels. The company is hoping as many 240,000 shoppers and 10 million viewers will show up for the event.

The concept is not new. In Asia, the live shopping networks started half a decade ago and the COVID-19 pandemic catapulted the idea into the mainstream. Events with hosts, chats, music, and live hauls have turned out to be the most preferred way for people to shop, engage, and also have an opportunity to see the merchandise outside of staged pictures. PrivCo has previously covered this rising trend and has also covered the tech adoption evolution of Asia->Western Tweens->Western Mainstream-> B2B. Live shopping with a festival twist might just have reached a tipping point to gain critical mass.



Ridesharing has been increasingly in the headlines for its labor practices. Most recently, California has tried to push the companies to categorize their drivers as employees. However, according to a recent survey 2 months into the pandemic, most drivers don’t want to be categorized as employees.

The main reason behind drivers’ pushback is that most of them work only 10-20 hours a week and balance driving with other jobs. They very much want the freedom to manage their work. In addition, drivers also fear the potential loss of business due to the likely fare hike after the re-categorization. They observed this fall in ridership when New York mandated minimum wage, which led to a hike in fares. Still, despite being classified as independent contractors, many drivers don’t feel they are truly independent. It's a conundrum the ridesharing companies still have to solve. 

Some bullish arguments for the battered Quibi are here. The launch of the new platform coincided with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. People are no longer spending as much time on their phones as before the pandemic, leading to a lackluster launch and low number of downloads.

However, new media – eventually – gets content that is designed for that medium. Despite the popularity of TikTok, there still exists a vacuum for longer format content created for phones. Most digital content and experiences are still essentially created for desktop, repurposed to fit on a phone screen: the Facebook feed, Google search, and banner ads among them. Santa Monica-headquartered Snap and now Quibi are the best examples of premium content that is mobile-first.

However, the path to longer-form content isn't without resistance. Much of the mobile content is free (Facebook feed, TikTok). How well will consumers react to a paid service in a downturn? And if you build it, will they come?

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Platform Shopping Companies:

Facebook made an investment in JioMart earlier this month, eyeing Reliance Jio's app layer which had already captured a big part of the Indian shopping market. Shops is now Facebook’s latest move into the space on a broader scale. Facebook Shops will allow merchants to list and transact on Facebook and Instagram. Alongside with banking tools for merchants, this service will not only make traditional banking less relevant but could also take more power and autonomy from small businesses in the long run.

Shopify, an e-commerce company that is native to the space, has launched a merchant banking business called Balance. Many small merchants are currently using their personal bank accounts and cards for business, meaning they’re combining their personal and business finances, making it difficult to measure the financial health of the business. Shopify Balance will help close this gap by giving merchants access to critical financial products to start, run, and grow their businesses -- namely, an online business account.

Google lets any business owner who sells products online to list his or her inventory for free. Usually, an e-commerce operation would need to pay for ad placement on Google Shopping. But the company says it will now let anyone who operates a website or manages a store on a marketplace platform to list without paying. Google still plans to charge companies for top placement as promoted listings.

NTWRK began in the fall of 2018 by livestreaming shopping opportunities; its daily episodes or drops focused on sneakers and streetwear. Now it’s branching into brand partnerships in adjacent areas. Backed by investors that include Drake, Ntwrk has run exclusive merchandise drops for companies such as Nike.

Funding & Deal Highlights:

Omada Health scores $57M as the coronavirus pandemic sparks investor interest in health tech. Omada Health, which provides digital tools for people with chronic health conditions to change their behavior, raised $57M and spent an estimated $30M of the round acquiring Physera. Investors are clamoring to get behind the space, as regulations loosen to make it easier for providers to bill for virtual care visits. Physera specializes in virtual physical therapy.

Octant launches with $30M Series A financing. Octant, Inc. is a synthetic biology drug discovery company designing small molecule, multi-target drug leads for multifactorial diseases. The Series A financing was led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. Additionally, Octant is responding to the global call for collaboration by open-sourcing part of its platform under the Open COVID Pledge for use in the COVID-19 pandemic. The company has shared these technological repurposing efforts for viral detection and a new protocol called SwabSeq.

Koch Engineered Solutions acquires DarkVision in move to develop integrated asset integrity platform. DarkVision's core capabilities include in-house expertise in software (visualization and image processing), hardware (acoustic transducer arrays), and electronics (custom designs to link hardware and software). These advanced capabilities have broad applicability beyond DarkVision's current commercial offering serving the downhole oil & gas space. Packaged into a single robust solution, DarkVision serves customers in a variety of end-markets such as public infrastructure, energy and pipelines, power (renewables and conventional), aerospace, manufacturing, and automotive.

MasterClass raises $100M in Series E funding.

Operations management company BetterCloud attracts $75M.

Consent-based identity management system Truework scores $30M Series B.

Aqua Security, which protects cloud-based apps, picks up $30M Series D.

S.F. unicorn Samsara raises $400M at lower valuation, cuts 300 employees.

Seattle marketing startup Tune acquired by Canadian tech company Constellation Software.

Panasonic takes stake in PE-backed Blue Yonder.

Insightful Science acquires Cytapex Bioinformatics, adding clinical solutions to its growing portfolio of category-leading scientific software.

Bain Capital invests in Broadstep Behavioral Health.

Since last week, PrivCo has added:
71,482 Profiles | 101 M&A Deals160 Fundings
Exclusive Revenues, EV, EBITDA, and Valuations
Amazon is reportedly in talks with JCPenney
Amazon might be looking to expand its own apparel business and to turn some of J.C. Penney’s properties into distribution centers [Read more].
Apple plans to add audio to Apple News+
The option of listening to stories on Apple News+ fits into a recent trend of publishers offering audio versions of their stories on their own properties, such as their websites, or within their mobile apps. [Read more]
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